John L. Paul

Dues mount to Rs.110 crore; ‘fuel cells’ to monitor buses

Corporation needs Rs.450 crore worth diesel each month

Fuel conservation measures have yielded results

KOCHI: The Kerala State Road Transport Corporation has sought the government’s help to tide over a crisis arising out of unpaid fuel bills mounting to Rs.110 crore.

With the debts crossing Rs.100 crore, the Indian Oil Corporation might put curbs on the supply of diesel to the corporation’s depots. It needs Rs.450 crore worth diesel each month.

The Energy Management Centre has been entrusted with the task of studying a proposal to run a share of the agency’s buses on CNG or LNG.

While CNG will bring down fuel bills by 10 per cent, LNG will cut it by 80 per cent.

Executive Director (Technical) of the corporation B. Ravindranath said that the average mileage per litre of diesel had gone up to 4.19 from 3.90 over a year ago. “Thus, the daily diesel consumption has not gone up despite our buses plying an additional two lakh km this year, as compared to 11.5 lakh km run daily in 2007. We have been able to save Rs.1 crore a month just on this count.”

Despite this, the corporation has been incurring a revenue-expenditure gap of Rs.16 to 17 crore every month.

“This is mostly because of mounting pension bills, burden of repaying huge loans and the compensation being paid to accident victims. Parallel services have been affecting KSRTC’s collection, especially in Thiruvananthapuram and Kollam,” said T. P. Senkumar, organisation’s Managing Director.

The delay in filling 1,400 vacancies of mechanics has resulted in the corporation relying on daily wage workers to carry out repairs. This has affected the maintenance and upkeep of the fleet. Bad roads, hartals, dharnas and other agitations too have affected revenue collection.

Aimed at reducing fuel consumption, technical experts from the corporation and the Petroleum Conservation Research Association have been taking classes for bus drivers.

The KSRTC has set up ‘fuel cells’ in three zones to monitor drivers and buses.

Speed limit

“The maximum speed of buses has been fixed at 70 km per hour, so that they do not incur fuel loss. Steps are also being taken to prevent leakage of diesel and air (for air brakes). Drivers with erroneous driving habits are being corrected, so that KSRTC buses are able to achieve the mileage of State-run buses in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Gujarat (over 5 kmpl),” Mr Ravindranath said.